Print books seem to encourage better parent-toddler interaction than electronic books, a Pediatrics study finds.
Nearly 40 parent-toddler pairs were observed while reading three types of books: a basic e-book, an enhanced e-book (e.g., with sound effects), and a print book. Parents’ dialogic verbalizations — for example, asking open-ended questions like “What do you think happens next?” — were more common with the print book than with either e-book. Parents also spent less time with negative directives — such as “Don’t press that” — with the print book.
Toddlers, meanwhile, made more book-related verbalizations — such as labeling a picture or answering a parent’s question about the story — with the print book than with the e-books.
Dr. Jenny Radesky, study author and associate editor of NEJM Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, commented: “Even though we recommend parent-child coviewing of media, this research suggests that it’s more difficult to engage in rich back-and-forth interactions with children when interactive media have their attention. Pediatric providers might want to help parents reflect upon this attention-grabbing nature of modern technology — which parents may feel themselves at times — and encourage families to choose play objects such as print books and simple toys that are easier to connect around.”
(Dr. Radesky had no role in our selection of this paper for coverage.)
Pediatrics article (Free abstract)
Pediatrics commentary (Subscription required)